Nelson Mandela

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Dr. Mary Frances Berry, a professor of history and Africana studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1984 Berry co-founded the Free South Africa Movement and was in Cape Town when Mandela was set free. The author of ten books, Berry teaches courses on the history of American law and the history of law and social policy.  

Quote: "Nelson Mandela was of course a magnificent leader in the cause of human rights, whose character was honed by suffering. I will never forget the day I first actually laid eyes on him after so many years of working for his freedom and the end of apartheid. He came in to the Mayor’s office in Cape Town right after being released from prison, with a twinkle in his eye, with thanks and hugs and love all around for all who had worked and waited so long for his presence. He remained always not just the hero but a down to earth guy, a real human being."


Dr. Rudra Sil, a professor of political science in the School of Arts and Sciences and co-director of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at Penn. On a recent trip to South Africa, he met with high-level politicians and labor leaders linked to the African National Congress, ANC.  He can discuss the lingering economic legacies of apartheid as well as Mandela's role in preventing civil war.

Quote: "There are two stories to tell about the twenty years that have passed since Mandela took office: one is to highlight how much the ANC did to fill the empty glass until it was one-third full; the other is to highlight how, even after twenty years, the glass is two-thirds empty for most black South Africans. Nelson Mandela did his job in handling the political transition from apartheid with a minimum of internal strife, and he certainly played a crucial role in heading off a civil war and ensuring that there would be a unified national program for "truth and reconciliation" and for "economic development" for all South Africans of all races. This was an amazing feat, and it made Mandela a true giant whose place in history remains secure.”  


Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, professor and chair of sociology and professor of Africana studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn. His research focuses on race and African and African diaspora populations. His books and edited volumes include "The Demography of South Africa Volume 1 of the “General Demography of Africa series, He is producer and director of the award-winning film “African Independence.” The film highlights the birth and realization of the movement to win independence in Africa, as well as some of the movement's challenges.

Quote: "Sad news indeed. He lived a long and fruitful life. When the people of South Africa needed a life of sacrifice, he stood and walked the walk. After the people of South Africa ended Apartheid, he guided them on a path that set the standard for political reconciliation. He was an international symbol of that which is good in us all if we could have the courage of a Nelson Mandela."


Media contact: Jacquie Posey, 215-898-6460 or